In the first of our 'Meet the Elites' blog series we asked UD athlete, Tarrin van Niekerk, some questions about her gear choices and training regime.
Tarrin is no stranger to the trail running scene in South Africa. Having won the George MUT 100km and SkyRun 100km races twice, she has firmly established herself as one of the best trail runners in the country. Her motivation and drive for constantly improving her race game is an inspiration, but trail running is more than just racing for her. A self proclaimed mountain addict she can often be found doing multi-day mountain adventures over weekends. When she isn't in the mountains training and exploring she is working as a physiotherapist and runs her own coaching business to help others achieve their running goals.
For extra long days or multi-day adventures in the mountains I use the Fastpack Her 30L.
What other UD gear do you use?
My current go to UD gear includes the race beltwhich is the perfect belt for my shorter runs where I can take along a 500ml soft flask together with small items like my phone and keys.
For those bad weather days I use the Ultra V2 Jacket to keep me warm and dry.
What shoes are currently in your rotation?
Altra Lone Peak 7and Altra Superior 5
Take us through a big race training week (when everything goes to plan)
- How many kms +-?
During a big training week, I run anything between 90-120km depending on the vertical gain, terrain and effort I'm targeting.
- How many days are intervals vs LSD vs strength/gym?
It will depend on the training phase. During a typical training week, I'm out on the trails six days a week. That's 2-3 interval sessions, mostly hills. Endurance runs between interval days, a massive mountain climb on a Friday afternoon (my favourite session), and then a race simulation long run to top off the week.
During the big training weeks, I skip the gym. I would instead prioritise rest and recovery so that my body can absorb more running load.
- How much mobility & stretching do you do?
A little bit every day. 5-20 minutes of mobility a day adds up.
Aside from the prerequisite compulsory equipment), what are the must-haves in your pack on race day?
Headphones and arm warmers.
Do you run with poles? If so, which ones?
I recently got my first pair of poles from LEKI.
What do you eat for breakfast on race day?
Banana bread topped with nut butter, sliced banana and honey. And coffee, obviously.
How long do you taper before a big race?
1-2 weeks, depending on the distance.
What's your cramp-prevention strategy on long races?
Smart pacing - I can usually keep the cramps at bay if I don't race harder than I trained. But that's easier said than done, especially when you're having fun. When I start feeling those warning twinges, I slow down, stretch and do deep breathing to calm my nervous system - a combination that works well. I also found that increasing my carb intake delays muscle fatigue and resultant cramping.
Biggest change you've made to your running lately?
Relocating to Stellenbosh. Living in a mountain town with unlimited access to an extensive, safe trail network and big mountain climbs was a game changer.